Monday, November 18, 2013

Florida Executions in 2013

Child-Killer Larry Mann
The Florida legislature recently passed the Timely Justice Act which “requires the governor to sign a death warrant within 30 days of review by the Florida Supreme Court; and it requires the state to execute the defendant within 180 days of the warrant.” Suddenly, child killers, serial killers, and other violent offenders actually face justice for their crimes. Governor Rick Scott has already signed more than a dozen death warrants.  So far this year, seven have been carried out.

Larry Mann (Executed April 10) – On November 4, 1980, Mann kidnapped Elisa Nelson off her bicycle as she rode to school.  He murdered her when she attempted to escape.  There was no doubt about his guilt.  His fingerprints were found on Elisa’s bike, and he confessed that he strangled Elisa and smashed her head in with a cement block.  Mann had previous convictions of sexual assault, including the rape of a seven-year-old girl.  The killer spent 30 years on death row avoiding justice for killing Elisa.  Finally, on April 10, Mann received an injection containing pentobarbital and went to sleep peacefully.  After the execution, Elisa’s brother Jeff Nelson said, “It is glaringly apparent that there is something fundamentally flawed with a justice system that takes over 32 years to bring to justice a pedophile who confessed to kidnapping and murdering a 10-year-old girl.”
Elmer Carroll (Executed May 29) – Twenty-three years after murdering Orange County youngster Christine McGowen, Carroll died for his crimes.  On October 30, 1990, he raped and strangled the ten-year-old in her own bed as her stepfather slept in another room.  Christine lived next door to the halfway house where Carroll, who had just been released from prison, was staying.  Carroll had two previous convictions for lewd conduct with children. Although there was no doubt as to his guilt, death penalty opponents rallied to stop the execution.  “[The death penalty] is a destructive tool rather than a preventive tool,” said Bishop John Noonan of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando.  Julie McGowan, Christine’s mother, said, “Thank you to all that have worked so hard [to bring justice to Christine].”
William Van Poyck (Executed June 12) – Van Poyck was executed for the 1987 murder of a correctional officer.  In West Palm Beach, Van Poyck and Frank Valdez ambushed a prison van in which their cohort, inmate James O’Brien, was being transported for medical treatment.  Guard Fred Griffis died in a volley of gunfire after he threw away the keys to prevent O’Brien’s escape.  Van Poyck claimed that Valdez fired the shots that killed Griffis.  During his 26 years on death row, he wrote a prison blog and published three books.  (Valdez was later stomped to death, allegedly by prison guards in revenge for Griffis’ murder.)  On June 12, Van Poyck died peacefully, unlike Griffis.  Lisa Van Poyck, sister of the convicted killer, said, “He’s finally free from those prison walls.”  Norman Traylor, Griffis’ cousin, expressed frustration at the news media for always focusing on Van Poyck instead of his victim.  “It's been a very traumatic experience,” he said.
John Ferguson (Executed August 5) – Ferguson murdered at least eight people in the Miami area.  The victims of a drug-fueled mass shooting were: Livingstone Stocker, 33; Michael Miller, 24; Henry Clayton, 35; John Holmes, 26; Gilbert Williams, 37, Charles Cesar Stinson, 35.  In a separate crime, Ferguson murdered teenagers Belinda Worley and Brian Glenfeldt.  The killer sat on death row for 35 years, claiming to be the “Prince of God” and convincing many that he was crazy.  Michael Worley, Belinda’s brother, told reporters that he felt Ferguson’s so-called mental illness had been “fabricated and coached.”  After the execution, Worley said, “I think he got off easy compared to what he did to the victims.”
Marshall Lee Gore (Executed October 1) Serial predator Gore raped 14 women in the Miami area.  He murdered two others, Susan Marie Roark and Robyn Novick.  He was also convicted of the attempted murder of Tina Coralis and the kidnapping of her two-year-old son.  Gore’s death warrant was for Novick’s murder.  He attempted to cheat the needle by feigning mental illness, and actually spent 23 years on death row, filing appeal after appeal.  Finally, facing his own death, he cringed on the gurney and refused to open his eyes.  Retired Miami-Dade Detective Dave Simmons, who investigated Gore’s slew of rapes, may have said it best: “[Gore] played the system for years faking insanity, saying outlandish things to judges and witnesses, and in his moment of truth, he had nothing to say for himself.  He was the ultimate coward in the end.”
William Happ (Executed October 15) Minutes before his execution, Happ made a final statement: “To my agonizing shame, I must confess to the crime.  I wish to offer my most sincere, heartfelt apology.  I have prayed for the good Lord to forgive me for my sins.  But I understand why those here cannot.”  The world’s media made a big deal out of Florida’s new choice of a death drug, midazolam hydrochloride, claiming it might cause undue pain.  The drug did take a few moments longer to work, but the killer didn’t seem to be in severe pain.  Happ kidnapped, raped, and murdered Angie Crowley, dumping her body in a canal near Crystal River.  Crowley’s brother said: “[Happ] killed my sister, he took her life.  But when he took that life, he created so many other victims.  What he did affected everybody.  It ate my mother up.  I changed jobs and moved all within three months.  He took away the potential.  There were seven kids in that family and she had the greatest potential of everybody.  She had the personality, she had the looks, she had the smarts, and she had the attitude. She really, really accomplished things and he took that.  We were never able to see it.”
Darius Kimbrough (Executed November 12) In 1991, Kimbrough climbed a ladder and broke into the second-story apartment of 28-year-old Denise Collins.  After raping her, he beat her so severely that he broke her jaw and fractured her skull.  Then he strangled his helpless victim to death.  Blood and semen samples taken from the scene matched Kimbrough.  Collins’s mother, Diane Stewart, told the media that “there’s no closure [and] there’s no forgiveness for him...No forgiveness whatsoever. Twenty-two years is outrageous. It’s just outrageous.”  After the execution, she said that Kimbrough “went out a lot cleaner and neater” than her daughter.

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